BETHLEHEM, Pa. – With high expectations of its own, Lehigh will play a challenging 2012 schedule which features seven preseason Top-20 teams, according to a pair of national polls released this week. The Mountain Hawks will face North Carolina, Villanova, Yale, Penn, Bucknell, Colgate and Penn State, who cracked both the Faceoff Yearbook Rankings and the Coaches’ Top 20.

UNC is Lehigh’s highest-ranked opponent, coming in at No. 6 in both polls. The Mountain Hawks host the Villanova Wildcats in their home opener on Feb. 18, who stand 10th in the Faceoff Yearbook Poll and 11th in the Coaches’ Poll. Yale comes in at 13/18, Penn at 14/16, Bucknell 15/10, Colgate 18/20 and Penn State 20/19.

Lehigh will host three of the preseason top-20 teams in Villanova (Feb. 18), Yale (Mar. 11) and Bucknell (Apr. 14).

The Mountain Hawks enter the 2012 season with high expectations following a 2011 campaign which saw them advance to the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2006 and defeat Navy for the first time since 1913. Lehigh returns its top four scorers (David DiMaria, Dante Fantoni, Cameron Lao-Gosney and Adam Johnston), All-League faceoff man (Ryan Snyder), top two goaltenders (Dan Carr and Griffin Farha) and three of its four defensemen (Blaise Fullen, Mike Noone and Ty Souders).

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Faceoff Yearbook Rankings
1. Virginia Cavaliers
2. Duke Blue Devils
3. Cornell Big Red
4. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays
5. Denver Pioneers
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
7. Syracuse Orange
8. Maryland Terrapins
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
10. Villanova Wildcats
11. Hofstra Pride
12. UMass Minutemen
13. Yale Bulldogs
14. Penn Quakers
15. Bucknell Bison
16. Princeton Tigers
17. Drexel Dragons
18. Colgate Raiders
19. Harvard Crimson
20. Penn State Nittany Lions

The Coaches’ Top 20
1. Virginia Cavaliers
2. Duke Blue Devils
3. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays
4. Syracuse Orange
5. Cornell Big Red
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
7. Denver Pioneers
8. Maryland Terrapins
9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
10. Bucknell Bison
11. Villanova Wildcats
12. Hofstra Pride
13. Harvard Crimson
14. UMass Minutemen
15. Delaware Blue Hens
16. Penn Quakers
17. Princeton Tigers
18. Yale Bulldogs
19. Penn State Nittany Lions
20. Colgate Raiders

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